Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) announced a $1 million gift from Eric Moskow, MD, a primary care physician and healthcare entrepreneur, and his family. This transformational gift will establish the Neligan-Safford Endowed Chair in Primary Care, the first chair in primary care at WCHN.

Once named, the chairperson will work to establish innovative approaches to patient care, engage in robust research, attract high-quality providers and medical students, and bolster WCHN’s reputation.

The Moskow’s gift comes amid a major primary care shortage. Connecticut currently needs 149 primary care providers to meet the recommended population-to-physician ratio, which was established to improve community health standards. 1 Nationally, nearly 15,000 new primary care providers are needed to meet recommended ratios based on the current population.1 According to recent studies, Americans with primary care providers receive more preventive care (like cancer screenings and flu shots), and report having better access to care and overall experiences than those who do not have a primary care provider.2

“Studies show that primary care providers serve as the gateway to healthy lives for people while improving outcomes and reducing hospitalizations,” said John M. Murphy, MD, president and CEO of WCHN. “With this newly established chair, WCHN will be better prepared to recruit, train and retain the very best providers who will deliver cutting-edge care to our patients.”

As community donors and WCHN continue to invest in enhancing primary care, training opportunities could include team-based practice models in both the local and global communities; increasing use of simulation for safe medical practice and physician-patient communications skill-building, and further embracing new technologies to streamline the patient care experience.

The Neligan-Safford Endowed Chair in Primary Care is named in honor of Patrick Neligan, MD, and Theodore Safford, Jr., MD. These late primary care providers mentored Dr. Moskow early in his career. Described as genuine family physicians, Neligan and Safford had mutual respect for each other. For decades, they provided Connecticut families with compassionate and reliable medical care.

Neligan and Safford were involved with several community health initiatives that remain active today, including a visiting nurse program, an annual community health day, and Dr. Neligan co-founded the Norwalk Community Health Center. Dr. Safford was also part of a national effort to get Family Practice approved as a medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). He was in the first group of physicians to be board certified in the specialty of family practice.

In addition to attracting world-class providers and residents, the enhanced emphasis on primary care will allow WCHN to participate in national research initiatives with the network’s Rudy L. Ruggles Biomedical Research Institute. The future chair of primary care services will also help WCHN establish new collaborations and alliances that will drive innovation.

The Neligan-Safford Endowed Chair in Primary Care will be WCHN’s 13th overall endowed chair.

1) According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that focuses on major healthcare issues facing the nation and the United States’ role in global health policy, December 2018 data: https://bit.ly/2gtA56j

2) According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), January 2019: https://bit.ly/2JWMsF0